Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2009 14:11 UTC
Linux With Linux traditionally coming in many, many flavours, a common call among some Linux fans - but mostly among people who actually do not use Linux - is to standardise all the various distributions, and work from a single "one-distribution-to-rule-them-all". In a recent interview, Linus Tovalds discarded the idea, stating that he thinks "it's something absolutely required!"
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We should just pick one and give it up. Either debian needs to get a clue and go with RPM etc or Redhat needs to move to using debian style stuff.

Until this happens, Linux is going to be about 1/100th as popular as it could be given a chance.

Agreed, but I suspect that is already happening to some extent. Essentially, it's the deb system for home users and the rpm system (Red Hat or based on mostly) for enterprise. In the home sphere, Ubuntu + Mint + Debian must far, far outweigh OpenSuSE, probably the most popular rpm-based distro for home users. And if OpenSuSE catches a Novell cold, quite possible in the present economic climate, then the rift will become even clearer.

I don't see Debian "getting a clue" partly because the project isn't set up like that. It's there to provide a free and open OS regardless of the pressures pushing IT one way or the other. Distros based on Debian, like Ubuntu, can then use this huge base to push in whatever direction they wish to. But Debian doesn't and can't afford to be seen to either, imho.

Besides, Ubuntu clearly does have a clue. The catch, imho, is a chronic lack of resources (such as money): they have to do what they do on about 1/1000th of the resources of a major corporation, so it's hardly surprising there are rough edges. Chicken and egg of course: rough edges = relatively few users compared to Mac or Windows = small resources = rough edges, etc.

As for Red Hat, they are sitting pretty in the Linux world I'd say. If you want free and rough edges, you have Fedora. If you want free and no or few rough edges for the server, you have CentOS. And if you want the second but with paid support, you have Red Hat proper. Each one pushes users up the chain to the other.

Even so, a couple of weeks recently with Fedora 10 was a surprise. It has a very poor range of configuration tools compared to Ubuntu or SuSE, ihmo, and very little effort has been made to steer users by way of details in readmes, example files, helper scripts and the like. If Fedora 10 is the best distro for new or inexperienced users, I'll eat my hat.

So one of the things holding Linux back isn't just lack of resources, imho, it's a reluctance by the distros to stop trying to be all things to all men and instead be much clearer about exactly who their distro is for. It's fine for there to be thousands of different distros, for sure. But if they are all run by geeks unable or unwilling to think themselves into the head of a non-geek user - someone without the time or inclination to poke around under the bonnet, and someone who is going to dump you if you try to make them - then Linux will continue to be about 1/100th as popular as it could be.

What Linux really needs is a charismatic, natural-born popularizer. Which could just as easily be a gadget or game as a person.

Edited 2009-02-04 20:26 UTC

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